As Neves, the village of the living coffin procession
As Neves is a village situated in Galicia in Spain where, each year, it celebrates a particular event called the procession of coffins.
The area is small so visiting the place is very quick even if there are 13 churches to discover but a church is a church after all !!!
The good point is that it surrounded by 4 nice natural areas, the xuliana river's valley in the west, the minho river's valley in the south, the termes river's valley in the east and the paradanta mountains in the north.
If you plan to visit this village, do it on july 29 because it is the day of saint Martha and go to the church of San
José de Ribarteme, where there is a statue of the saint, to see the famous procession of saint Martha of Ribarteme.
This pilgrimage was born in 1700 and it consists to carry coffins but the person, who is inside, should be alive !!! In fact, only who have been saved from the death or lived a near death experience can be inside and they are called “ofrecidos” (offered) and the people, who have to carry the coffin, should be his family and/or friends.
Saint Martha is considered to own the aptitude to save those who were at the edge of the death for having been the sister of Lazarus of Bethany, the one described in the New Testament that Jesus raised from the dead.
Once finished the mass, the bells of the church begin to ring and the coffins go towards the closer cemetery from where they return in procession until the starting point, meanwhile people sing the psalmodies " Virxen Santa Marta, estrela do Norte, traemos-che os que viron a morte" (Virgin Saint Martha, star of the North, we bring you those who saw death).
The offered ones should have an image of the saint in his/her right hand and she/he has to put it up as a sign of protection. The others, not the ones who carry the coffin, have to wear a kind of shroud made of white gauze over his/her normal cloth and at the right hand, a pilgrim stick with a candle at its end.
During the day, and even more so at night, fireworks are set off by those in the procession to mark their progress through the village. It is also a good time to try some local foods and why not, cross the frontier and go to Portugal, it is just at few hours.